SpaceX proudly announced the latest test flight of its Grasshopper vertical takeoff and landing vehicle (VTVL) at the Company’s rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas.
According to the latest information from SpaceX, its Grasshopper vehicle achieved a maximum altitude of 131 feet during its 29 second test flight. The experimental reusable space vehicle also succeeded in using its closed loop thrust vector and throttle control systems to hover and then land safely on the launch pad.
The Grasshopper VTVL is designed to operate as a space launch vehicle that can be recovered and reused. The 10-story tall rocket is built out of the first stage of a Falcon 9 launch rocket and is powered by a Merlin 1D engine. Its quadruple steel landing legs are equipped with hydraulic dampers and further braced by a support structure built out of sturdy steel.
SpaceX stated that the latest results significantly exceeded those of earlier Grasshopper test flights held during the fall of 2012. The rocket ascended 6 feet during its September test; it also did not hover. In comparison, its November test saw it reach triple the altitude at almost 18 feet. Grasshopper also briefly performed a hover.
Over the next few months, SpaceX intends to put Grasshopper through an additional series of flights of increasing sophistication.
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